New figures released by the World Health Organisation this month show that tuberculosis, the world’s leading infectious killer, just got deadlier. There were an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases and 1.8 million TB deaths in 2015. This is a 20% revision upwards from last year’s figures, showing that the TB epidemic is a bigger problem than we thought.
Ending the HIV, TB and malaria epidemics for good is critical to meeting the ambition of Goal 3 of the Global Goals – ensuring good health and well-being for all. However, much of the UK public believes that TB has already been eradicated, so we need to make this growing pandemic headline news. With increasing antimicrobial resistance (including resistance to the antibiotics used to treat TB), new vaccines, drugs and tools for diagnosing TB are urgently needed.
In September, we celebrated the UK Government’s commitment of £1.1 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, helping to save 8 million more lives. This leadership must be followed up with increased commitment to research and development into new vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tools to tackle this huge global health threat.
Please write a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper, telling them about the new figures released in the 2016 Global Tuberculosis Report, and calling on the UK Government to support a High Level Meeting on TB in 2017.